Koziyat Rog - Film (Movie) Plot and Review

(The Goat Horn)

Bulgaria, 1971

Director: Métodi Andonov

Production: Studiya za igralni filmi (Sofia, Bulgaria); black and white, 35mm, wide-screen; running time: 105 minutes, some versions 95 minutes; length: 2824 meters. Released February 1972. Filmed 1971 in Bulgaria.

Screenplay: Nikolai Haitov, from the short story by Nikolai Haitov; photography: Dimo Kolarov; editor: Evgeniya Radeva; sound: Mithen Andreev; production designer: Konstantin Dzhidrov; music: Siméon Pironkov; song: Maria Neikova; special effects pyrotechnics: Ivan Angelov; costume designer: Vladislav Schmidt; stunts: Petar Klyavkov.

Cast: Katya Paskaléva ( Maria ); Anton Gorchev ( Karaivan ); Kliment Denchev, Stefan Manrodiev, Todor Kolev, Marin Yanev ( Turk rapists ); Milèn Pénev ( The Shepherd ); Nevena Andonova ( Maria as a girl ); Krasimira Petrova ( Turk's wife ); Ivan Obretenov ( Poor man ); Ivan Yanchev ( Man with scar ).

Awards: Bulgarian Film Festival at Varna, Prize of the Audience, 1972; Chicago Film Festival, Silver Hugo (2nd prize), 1973.



Liehm, Mira, and Antonin Leihm, The Most Important Art: East European Film After 1945 , Berkeley, 1977.

Holloway, Ronald, The Bulgarian Cinema , Cranbury, 1986.


Ignatovski, V., in Kinoizkustvo (Sofia), March 1972.

Variety (New York), 16 August 1972.

Ivasiuc, A., in Cinema (Bucharest), September 1972.

Kopanevova, G., in Film a Doba (Prague), October 1972.

Cowie, Peter, in International Film Guide (London), 1973.

Malina, Martin, in Montreal Star , 27 January 1973.

Greenspun, Roger, in New York Times , 3 April 1973.

Cinéma (Paris), May 1973.

Mruklik, B., in Kino (Warsaw), May 1973.

Variety (New York), 30 May 1973.

Van Gelder, Lawrence, in New York Times , 23 August 1973.

Gomiscek, T., in Ekran (Ljubljana), no. 9–10, 1979.

Grozev, Aleksandr, "Metodi Andonov," in Kinoizkustvo (Sofia), vol. 37, no. 3, March 1982.

Young, D., " The Goat Horn (Kozijat rog) ," in Variety (New York), vol. 360, 7/13 August 1995.

* * *

One of the most successful Bulgarian films ever made and probably the best known abroad, Koziyat rog was based on a legend that was first retold and later worked into a short story by Nikolai Haitov. He emerged in the 1960s as one of the most popular of Bulgarian writers, especially famous for his descriptions of the people and traditions in the somewhat isolated and "wild" regions of the Rhodope mountains in the southern part of the country. The screenplay drifted yet further from the historical and psychological accuracy in search of a larger truth, that of a shattering human tragedy. An introductory title ("This bloody story happened in the XVII century. It starts with an act of violence.") makes apparently intentional the shift from the original story of blood revenge to a more ambitious study of the devastating chain-reaction effect of violence on man's soul—which gradually becomes the film's main theme.

In parallel with the thematic evolution is a formal development: the film discards what was perhaps considered a "more cinematic" dramatization, with flashbacks and intriguing tension, for a straightforward narration with very sparse dialogue and a more predictable yet moving plot. Katya Paskaleva gives a memorable performance in the roles of both shepherd Karaivan's wife, raped and eventually killed by a band of Turks, and their daughter Maria, who is brought up by her father to be a man and to seek revenge, but who falls in love and commits suicide after Karaivan kills her lover. The bold treatment of sex and violence made the film a box-office record-breaker, while the critics praised its rhythm, stark black-and-white photography and its inherent Bulgarian-ness. It touched, no doubt, a very intimate chord in the collective consciousness of a country in which the last hundred years of its independence had been painfully dominated by the consequences of a fierce Ottoman oppression, threatening at times its very existence.

The song from the film, with lyrics added, became a hit, and ten years after the film's release the short story was successfully made into a ballet at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Sofia. Koziyat rog is now widely recognized by Bulgarian critics and public alike as not only the best screen adaptation of Haitov's work and the best film of director Metodi Andonov (whose untimely death in 1974 put an end to a promising career) but also as a landmark in Bulgarian cinema, one that raised its prestige for a generation of film-goers and helped to move it to the forefront of the country's contemporary culture.

—Dimitar Bardarsky

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